California Law Enforcement Sign-on Letter
California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice
Attn: John Van de Kamp, Chair
900 Lafayette Street, Suite 608
Santa Clara, California 95050
We, the undersigned, are current and former prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and correctional officers. We have devoted some or all of our lives to improving public safety and making the criminal justice system work. Based on our years of experience, we have concluded that California’s death penalty is broken.
We believe that individuals who commit murder should be held accountable. Life without parole is a harsh and appropriate punishment for individuals convicted of the most serious crimes. Not one person sentenced to life without parole in California has ever been pardoned or paroled. A trial seeking life without parole is far speedier than a death penalty case and costs far less. By pursuing life without parole sentences instead of death, resources now spent on the death penalty prosecutions and appeals could be used to investigate unsolved homicides, modernize crime labs, and expand effective violence prevention programs.
Many of us have also watched California’s death penalty fail victims’ families. The death penalty system drags survivors and family members through years of appeals, forcing them to relive the tragic nightmare of the crime over and over again.
Finally, when life and death are at stake there is no margin for error. The advent of DNA-testing has provided proof that innocent people have been sentenced to death. But in the majority of death penalty cases, there is no DNA-evidence. Sentencing individuals to life without parole instead of death ensures that we will never make the irreversible mistake of executing an innocent person.
California’s death penalty is not working. We encourage the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice to engage in a robust discussion of these issues and of the social utility of the death penalty. The empirical and anecdotal evidence developed over the past thirty-one years demonstrates that California’s death penalty scheme and its application are broken.